MELBOURNE has been fined $50,000 by the AFL for Harley Bennell's weekend breach of COVID-19 protocols.
That figure will be deducted from the club's 2021 soft cap allocation.
Bennell was suspended for four matches, which will need to be served next season, and has also been ordered to return to Melbourne. His future with the club, which gave him a lifeline after many troubles at Gold Coast and Fremantle, had yet to be determined and is now in serious jeopardy.
None of the club's fine has been suspended, given Bennell's breach is Melbourne's second infringement after Charlie Spargo and Kysaiah Pickett breached protocols during the COVID-19 shutdown.
Bennell breached AFL players' agreed protocols on the weekend when he left the club's Sunshine Coast hub for social reasons.
The Demons have isolated Bennell from their hub since learning of his transgression.
"This is a selfish act by Harley, and a clear breach of the AFL's protocols," Melbourne CEO Gary Pert said.
"He has made a very poor decision, which is incredibly disappointing. He has not only put himself, his teammates and the competition at risk, but he has failed to live up to the values of the Melbourne Football Club.
"On behalf of the Melbourne Football Club, I sincerely apologise to the AFL and the Queensland Government for the embarrassment and harm that this incident has caused.
"Harley knew the rules. He understands the extent of his actions and is incredibly remorseful for his behaviour. He has made a terrible mistake and has been punished accordingly.
"As a club, we accept the punishment and fines handed down as a result of this breach.
"Our responsibility now is to ensure we support Harley and his family, during what is a very challenging period for them."
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AFL general counsel Andrew Dillon said: "Harley knew the rules and could have put his club and the competition at risk on the eve of a finals campaign."
The transgression came two weeks after Richmond players Sydney Stack and Callum Coleman-Jones were fined by Queensland police after a fight outside a Surfers Paradise strip club.
AFL players have been told they can stay in Queensland after football duties but in the event of poor behaviour have been threatened with AFL Commission sanctions under bringing-the-game-into-disrepute rules.